SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Army Corps of Engineers says two new harbor vessels now bear the names of local heroes, soldiers who gave their lives defending their units in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One boat is named for Army Staff Sgt. Vernon Martin, from Savannah, who died in Afghanistan in 2009. The second vessel is named for Army Spc. Christopher Holland, from Brunswick, who died in Iraq in 2003.
On Thursday, the Corps held two separate christening ceremonies for the families of the fallen.
Martin was 25 years old when his unit was attacked by the Taliban on October 3, 2009. He and seven other soldiers died in the attack.
His brother, Joseph Steward said Martin was shot in the leg but refused medical attention. Steward added that Martin continued to serve the unit by trying to provide ammunition until a truck he was in was fired upon and hit.
“He had a huge heart and was headstrong, and that’s why he gave his best the day the attack began,” said Steward. “May God bless my brother and the soldiers who passed with him, and may God Bless America.”
Martin’s mother, Connie Brown said it’s been more than 11 years but she still “misses him every day.”
She said Martin would have celebrated his 37th birthday on March 30.
The boat was christened with seawater. Family members filled cups and splashed the side of the boat.
“I was thinking of him when I did mine and how much he would have enjoyed this ceremony,” said Brown.
She says her son was dedicated and determined to serve his country, and she believes the boat is a symbol to remind the community of his sacrifice.
“He lives on, he lives on. And when they go out and they call, ‘SS Martin is on the shore,’ he’ll be there,” said Brown.
A second ceremony for the boat named after Holland was held Thursday afternoon with Army Corps leaders and the specialist’s family in attendance.
Holland was 26 when he died in an ambush in Iraq on December 17, 2003. As a medic, he was credited with saving lives until unfortunately, his own was taken that night.
The Holland survey vessel will patrol waters in and near Brunswick.